Wrinkles: The Joy of Nursing Aged Patients | My Journal of Nursing Adventures |
Ayinla Daniel. RN
“When you are old and grey and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep”
― W.B. Yeats, The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats
The nursing profession has taught me a lot of lessons about life. Lessons no book would have been able to teach me, and as I mature in the profession, I am exposed to diverse experiences and golden exposures, and one of these experiences that I enjoy a whole lot is in the care of old folks – hope this is not sounding weird to you? If it’s, then I beg you to pardon my ‘weirdity.’ don’t bother checking the thesaurus for that word, I do not think it exists.
Old people are fragile, wise, and they have this strange aura of “life’s coming to an end, it’s not permanent”, around them. Makes me feel odd and prepared.
Life’s not permanent, physical life though, because I believe in life after now, forgive my sermon.
“As you get older, three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can’t remember the other two”Sir Norman Wisdom
While interacting with very old patients, you can’t help but observe that they have a very different view of life. They are coming to the end of tangible life, their strengths have faded, their energy waned, many have enjoyed the numerous beauties of life, they have seen it all! And when you take care of people like this, you can not help it but to think about your own life. Yes sir, your own life, you are not getting younger, except you are a vampire, which I know that your are not a vampire more than I am an astronaut.
I am so old, they have cancelled my blood typeBob Hope
When I take care of the aged; I am referring to guys in their late eighties, maybe late seventies, up into their late nineties. You know, very old folks, people old enough to be a great grandparent of yours. I discover that my level of patience seems to rise, I am more patient with them, I never get angry or pissed off, unlike some of my colleagues who may get angry at certain things these old guys do [they could be very annoying at times, you know what I mean?] I guess it may be due to the way I have been able to understand how they behave or interact, or maybe it’s a super power of mine.
They have a lot of stories to tell. Some have so much wisdom that they can tell you the history of states that you and your parents were born in. Yes, they have lived that long and some how, they are able to recollect and tell you some stories that you may be forced to ask your self if loss of memory is a compulsory sign of old age, though I heard that as you grow older, your memory seems to get better, well, I do not know how true this is, but if it’s true, boy! O! boy!, there’s a lot I would love to remember.
Childhood is when they tell you “falling is an important part of growing up”. Old age is when you realise it – very old ageAnonymous, but I tweaked it – a bit.
As a male nurse, I tend to interact more with older men, well, maybe, I don’t know why it is like that, I seldom don’t get to see or better say interact with older women, maybe older men are more fun, and oh! I remember though she was not a patient of mine, but she was my Great-Grandmother, oh yes! The mother of my mother’s mother. She was already aged when I came into this world, and she lived passed her hundredth year, we could not even tell her exact age, she was that old, and she was fun to be with, she could not speak English, our type of English, but she could get along with some Pidgin English. And when she died, I was there for her burial festival; I let out some good sobs, as I watched my uncles slowly place her coffin into the hole that was made in our compound. In this part of Africa, sometimes we bury our dead at home, especially the very old ones who lived in their personal homes before they died.
Back to old patients talk. You virtually have to do everything for old patients, and that is why geriatric nursing is a special type of profession. If you want to take up a profession of taking care of old guys, then you must be ready to develop tough patience, because this specie of human beings have walked around the cycle of life and are now babies, the only difference may be that these kinds of babies do not need a cot, they can talk and they are probably getting ready to die. If you are not patient, I mean naturally patient, well, I might advice you not to venture into taking care of aged people or geriatric nursing, but if you think you have enough patience, then you can give it a try.
In taking care of old patients, I have also come to understand that time is fast. Yes, it flies fast. And that is the more reason why we must get serious with life, get busy with things that add value to us and the society, for before you know it, a time will come when you will not have the strength to do what you want to do anymore. It’s just natural.
For the first half of your life, people tell you what you should do; for the second half, they tell you what you should have done.Richard J. Needham
Are old people full of regrets? Well, they may be, that is if they did not spend their young days with enough wisdom to make their old days full of testimonies instead of regrets. You need to also ask your self this same question: “Will my older years be full of regrets or testimonies?” You can make that decision now if you are still young, but if you are already in your seventies, which I do not expect to see anyone in his/her seventies with a smartphone checking out this blog, but if there are any, well, I hope you enjoyed your young years.
What other lessons have I learnt from taking care of aged people? Aha! One last one before I draw the curtains – They are more likely to suffer from loneliness. It is an awesome sight to see couples grow old together, and die together, but if one dies, leaving the other one behind, it is not going to be very easy for the one left behind to cope.
Old fellows are often the only folks in their leagues, more younger people are busy or their children or grand children are busy with their own lives. For some who may enjoy the luxury of having their grand kids or great grandkids as the case may be around them, may experience a cushion effect from the compulsory blows of growing old, this category may not suffer much from loneliness, there are small kids around to make them happy – kids like them.
Believe me, loneliness or social isolation is a serious disease of old age.
I also happen to stumble upon a recent idea that makes it possible for people to adopt grand parents, very funny stuff and also very interesting. These things are common with the Westerners, not in Africa, our old people live and die amongst us, that is why the culture of old people’s home is not a popular one here – we love our old people, keeping them with us may have some drawbacks, but we still love them around us, though we don’t give them the full attention that they need. Some of us who have enough resource, go ahead to provide people who care for them at home.
Old age is a gift, because in our modern world, not everyone gets the chance to grow old, seeing their children’s children, and in addition to just growing old, if one grows old in good health, well, that’s a huge plus. Very few fellows grow old in perfect health. Some may get to the aged phase, but without a acomplete set of teeth, or a weak limb or a weak organ.
All right guys, that brings me to a temporal end to our small discussion. What are your own experiences with older people or if you are a health care provider, what are your experiences with older patients? Leave a comment, let us learn from you!